Using The Five Finger Rule

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SWBAT identify text features in nonfiction, as they continue to study cells' function as "building blocks" of organisms, and summarize the requirements for cells to live.

Big Idea

What will this text teach me? By using and applying the Five Finger Rule, students will understand a text at a much deeper level.

Bell Ringer - Identify Text Features In Nonfiction

6 minutes

Identify Text Features In Nonfiction

Before Viewing the Video:

I want my students to learn how to identify text features in nonfiction so they will be better readers and to help them understand what they have read. I show the video "Identify Text Features in Nonfiction," to introduce this skill. I want students to list 3 strategies from the video. To hold students accountable for listening closely to the video, students record their thinking in either the Science Journal (Notebook) which is a paper saver, or on a Video Learning Ticket. Another way to do this is to print the questions on the ticket on a large mailing label, and just pass those out for students to stick in their Science Journal. The templates are available online.



After Viewing the Video:

After giving them one minute to finish writing their thoughts, I use popsicle sticks to draw student names and start the discussion. By using popsicle sticks, I can bring a variety of students into the discussion. From the discussion, I am looking for answers such as: 

Text features could be a title, subtitle, photos, captions, or information boxes.

Vocabulary words are written in bold letters.

Use the sentence frame "I notice..." when I write my observations about the text. 

The Five Finger Rule

30 minutes

This lesson focuses on a variety of standards including CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.5 which states students should analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.

Other standards addressed in the lesson include: RST.6-8.2 which states that students should determine the central idea of a text; RST.6-8.4 which states that students should determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain specific words as they are used in specific science context; and RST.6-8.5 which states that students should analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole. Each of these standards is important to the lesson as students focus on finding and using text features in non-fiction and informational text.

The ability to identify text features is a powerful strategy for students to know and understand throughout their academic career. I encourage students to identify and use text features to support comprehension, to develop nonfiction writing, and build domain specific vocabulary.

The key text features for this activity are:

1. Title of the text

2. Images, photos, graphs, and charts which give clues to the content of the text

3. Key Vocabulary in the text

4. Headings & Subheading which create an outline of the text

5. Summary of the first and last paragraphs of the text

The Five Finger Rule is a strategy that can become a habit for repeated, successful experiences in learning. Students find joy in learning something new and this strategy will encourage them to build that knowledge themselves. The Five Finger Rule uses visuals with words to help the brain remember information.

What Will This Text Teach You?

4 minutes

What will this text teach you?

After using this analytical reading strategy, I pose the question "What will this text each you?" I want students to understand the structure of the text in order to gain a deeper understanding of the content. I ask students to write their response on the paper.

Some student responses as they analyzed the chapter about Classification of Living Things include:

The text will teach me:

  • about different species and what they use to adapt.
  • where living things live.
  • how living things are classified.
  • about the biosphere and organisms in it.
  • how to classify living organisms.
  • about fungi and bacteria.


Students incorporate domain specific vocabulary in their answers using words such as: biosphere, organism, bacteria, and fungi. Yes! They got it!